Tag Archives: consumer insight

Bravery In Marketing

I do not like the new Tide 2X. No matter how little I use, soap remains in dense fabrics, such as towels, and I can’t get it out. My daughter and I both have noticed that our clothes feel “itchy” with the new Tide. I have used Tide all my life, but I may have to change to something else, since I can no longer get “regular” Tide. Have others noticed this also?

Judy, Salt Lake City, UT

I used this product on a shirt of my husbands that had a new stain on the front. Bottom line stain is still there, I’ve used other products that worked much better than this one did. I would not recommend this product to anyone.

Miata, Waverly, NE

Companies don’t like to hear comments like these, or worse learn such comments are being shared with other people.

But those quotes weren’t pulled from a focus group nor from blogs, they were available on Tide’s home page from actual customers providing feedback regarding Tide’s products.

To take things a step further, Tide provides a slew of product reviews for all of its products so consumers can make an educated decision about the product in which they are interested.

In a time when consumers are asking for transparency (see SC Johnson’s new campaign about their ingredients) and using the social web (ie Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Blogs) to share their thoughts, you have three choices:

  1. Ignore it and hope it goes away.  (It won’t)
  2. Listen to what people are saying and respond in a defensive manner
  3. Embrace it and use it to make your products better and your brand more trusted.

Let me know what companies you think are being brave in their marketing.


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Why March Madness and Vasectomies are a Perfect Match

When an idea speaks to its audience so clearly, it catches your attention.

It doesn’t have to come from an international ad agency or global ideation company.  In fact, an idea that resonates with its audience can come from anywhere.

Case in point: The VAS MADNESS promotion from The Urology Team in Austin, TX. They have extended their hours during March to encourage men who may be considering a vasectomy to do it during the NCAA’s March Madness so they can recover while watching basketball all weekend.

While the creative execution might be lacking, you can’t argue with the idea.  The number of men looking for any excuse to sit and watch basketball all weekend is significant.  The Urology Team just tapped into that desire and gave men who were considering the procedure a reason to have it now.

With so many ways to tap into your audience like social media, surveys, blogs, forums and good old-fashioned conversations, I am sure there are many ideas that you can develop to connect with your customer base.

Who knows – maybe it will come to you during March Madness.


To learn more about using social media for greater consumer insight attend IIR’s Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference.  To learn more visit http://bit.ly/d7mUWG and use code XM2205SMB to save 15%.

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Filed under Good Communications

How Do You Handle Online Criticism?

We’ve discussed the role of Passive Social Media (monitoring social media) as a way to gain consumer insight about your company. The most difficult part (by far) is hearing criticism, but one that is important to your overall growth.

The February issue of Inc. has a great story on the social review site Yelp and the impact of consumer reviews on business.  Inc. senior writer Max Chafkin lists the five steps in handling online criticism:

  1. Register – “Registering [on sites like Yelp] allows you to correct inaccuracies, receive alerts when you are reviewed and respond to your critics.”
  2. Breathe – “If there’s no way to respond to a review without being angry, profane or aggressive, don’t do it at all.”
  3. Be Gracious – “Apologize for what the customer didn’t like and offer to make it right.”
  4. Complain – “[Yelp] removes reviews in cases where there is a conflict of interest.”
  5. Avoid The Courts – “If you decide to sue, be ready for more attacks”.

The points Chafkin makes are great for handling negative reviews. It is equally important that you are not so blind to your business that you classify every negative review as wrong.

If you are a restaurant and you get negative reviews every Monday night, is there a staffing issue that needs to be addressed?

Are people frustrated with your return policy?  If so, determine if you need to change your policy or just communicate it better at point of purchase.

If you see the same point come up review after review, recognize the trend and correct it quickly. When you communicate your changes, be sure to give credit to the people who brought it to your attention.

Doing so will go a long way to endear your audience and have them defend you against unwarranted negative comments.


IIR’s Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies conference will address “Cashing in on the Conversation”.  To learn more visit http://bit.ly/d7mUWG and use code XM2205SMB to save 15%.

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How Will New Consumer Habits Impact Your Business?

Many experts predict that new habits created in this current economic downturn will be long lasting.  A recent article in US News by Rick Newman highlights the 17 ways consumer habits have changed. The impact is far reaching in regard to what people buy as well as how they buy.

The consumer is volunteering more, becoming more self-sufficient and doing away with the excesses they once “had to have”.  Now is the time for you to rethink how you connect with consumers in your effort to meet their needs.

Here are Newman’s 17 Ways Consumers Are Changing:

  • Less credit, more cash
  • It is no longer about the monthly payment, but the total cost
  • Greater suspicion of banks and business
  • Being more resourceful
  • Less brand loyalty
  • Smaller is bigger
  • Renting is popular again
  • Less window shopping
  • More closet shopping
  • Decluttering
  • Food frugality
  • More gardening
  • Less waste
  • Less healthcare
  • More negotiating
  • More volunteering
  • Redefining success

Consider how you can help simplify the consumer’s life. For example, proactively call your customers when it’s time for their next appointment or service, instead of sending them a reminder notice and waiting for them to reach out to you.

The more you can do to make that connection, the better your business will adjust to this new consumer.

FYI – lowering your price is not the answer.

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Filed under Consumer Trends

Is Your Brand Indispensable?

Two years ago, who would have thought Coke and Energizer could ever be cast aside by retailers?

Well – it’s happening.

Costco recently announced it was no longer selling Coca-Cola products as a result of a price battle.  CVS is dropping most Energizer products and will only carry Duracell and its private label.     Following this trend, Wal-Mart continues to move towards its product mix goal of one top brand, one value brand and its private label.

Costco is betting people will continue to come to Costco and buy alternatives to Coke.  CVS has used its customer shopping data to predict a minimal sales drop if they no longer sell Energizer.

What should all businesses take away from this?

Few brands are indispensable to the customer. In fact, you know your customers could find a pretty good alternative if you were no longer in business.

So what can you do to become as close to indispensable as possible?

Know your customers

  • Why do they choose to buy your product/service?
  • What do you offer them that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • Why do they buy from your competitors if you aren’t available?
  • What do your competitors offer that you don’t?
  • How are they using your product or service?
  • How do they use your competitor’s product or service?

(These questions can be easily answered through one-on-one interviews and quantified through online research.)

Know your competition

  • What are they offering that you don’t?
  • What makes them unique in the market?
  • Do they partner with other companies?

Upon learning about your customers, develop service offerings that they can only get from your company.  Some ideas could be:

  • Guarantees
  • Special hours
  • Rewards programs
  • Loyal customer specials
  • Packaged service offering
  • Something extra every time they do business with you (for example, a local Chinese restaurant gives you an extra appetizer as their way of saying thank you)

Why no mention of lowering prices on these lists? Making your brand indispensable is not about price; it is about creating value that your audience can not receive anywhere else.

How are you creating value to make your brand indispensable?

Post your comments so others can learn from what you are doing.


Filed under Brand Position, Competition, Marketing ROI

The Power Of Being Passive In Social Media

imagesTo me, marketing through social media falls into two camps: Active and Passive.

Active is when a company disseminates information through channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs.

Passive is about spending time listening to what consumers are saying about your company, your products, your competitors and your industry via social media.

In their efforts toward active social media marketing, companies post press releases on Facebook, put commercials on YouTube and talk about how great their service is on their company blog.

The greatest challenge, however, is making sure you have a large enough audience to warrant implementing a social media marketing plan. Spending hours on your company’s Facebook page to market to 75 “fans” is not a good use of your time.

Creating a strong passive social media strategy, on the other hand, can provide you endless insight into your audience and help you develop a more strategic active strategy.

Tools like Tweefind, Technorati, BlogSearch, plus searching YouTube and Facebook, can help you find out what is being said about your company in social media.

Passive strategy is also monitoring your competition. Techrigy and Vitrue can provide you a picture of what your competition is doing in social media.

This type of social media monitoring will bring you closer to the consumer.  You see trends being created, identify problem areas and monitor consumer reaction to product changes.

This information allows you to improve your products and will drive your active strategy when, for example, you respond to consumers to help educate them on why you may do certain things.

Passive social media marketing in action:

A client of mine manufactured clay poker chips, so we monitored blogs, forums, etc. and found out people liked the chips, but didn’t like the powdery residue on the chips.  The powder was there to protect the chips during shipping and went away after playing with the chips a few times.  Upon our recommendation, they began including a note in the poker chip case explaining the residue and those comments went away.

If your company wants to develop a social media strategy, start with a passive strategy first.  Figure out what is being said and who’s saying it.  Once you have that knowledge your active strategy will be more compelling and successful.


Filed under Social Marketing

Listening To Your Customers – Now Made Easier

techrigy logo smallThis month I was introduced to Techrigy, a new marketing tool that measures your brand’s mentions in social media – blogs, twittter, facebook, message boards, etc.

Why use a tool like this? While you may use social media to proactively market your company, they are also accessible tools for your customers to talk about your company online. Monitoring these mentions can help you understand what is important to your customers, and help you learn from their experiences.

Techrigy will monitor your brand activity online and lets you dissect your data by demographics, sentiment (positive or negative comments), geography, days of the week and other metrics. It also identifies who writes about your brand the most; this can be helpful for marketing and customer service purposes.

It’s important that you know what people are saying about your company. Check out Techrigy. Free and Premium subscriptions are available.

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Filed under Social Marketing, tracking